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New Hanover County leaders take steps to revive film industry

They’re looking for a sequel. Elected leaders are taking the first steps to bring the film...
They’re looking for a sequel. Elected leaders are taking the first steps to bring the film industry back to New Hanover County.(WECT)
Updated: Jan. 14, 2019 at 6:04 PM EST
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - They’re looking for a sequel.

Elected leaders are taking steps to bring the film industry back to New Hanover County.

County commissioners Rob Zapple and Johnathan Barfield Jr. asked the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) for more money for the state’s film grant program at their meeting last week. According to Zapple, when state leaders ended the tax credit program, film companies moved out of state where there are more incentive programs.

“(State leaders) felt that they were uncomfortable with the tax credit program and they thought that film companies would still come here even without the incentive program," Zapple said. “They were wrong and Georgia, Louisiana, Florida and Texas all had strong and robust film and television enhancement or incentive programs, and that’s why film and television here just went right to them.”

The film industry brought in about $900 million for North Carolina from 2012-14, according to Zapple, and about $500 million for New Hanover County.

Zapple said if the grant offered more money, the county could lure producers back to the area, creating jobs for thousands. He has a message for those producers.

“North Carolina is open for film and television business," Zapple said. "We want you to come back here. We embrace you. We’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve got the workforce, and we certainly have the need and the want for you to be here.”

It won’t just create jobs, he said. It would help small businesses too.

“That’s the multiplier effect," Zapple said. "They buy food in grocery stores and in restaurants, so it has a huge impact on our local economy, and again across the state of North Carolina. But it’s the small business impact where we could really use that shot in the arm, especially after recovering from Hurricane Florence.”

According to Zapple, the meeting where the commissioners requested more money happens once every two years. He said other NC commissioners supported bringing back the film industry.

Now, the NCACC will add it to its legislative goals, asking state leaders for more money. The association is restricted to $12 million film groups can earn back.

Commissioners also hope lawmakers will look at existing legislation to encourage growth of the film industry across the state.

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